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Do You Think Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness?

Now, I do believe that as humans, we are ALL a little ‘crazy.’ I think that almost everyone could be diagnosed as having something. The point when help is needed is when someone is so inhibited that they are unable to operate normally in their lives, including at their jobs and with their families.

Mental illness is such a frightening thing for people going through it, and for those emotionally supporting them. I have a lot of experience with mentally ill people in my life–my birth mother was a Paranoid Schizophrenic who had also had episodes of the rare Postpartum Psychosis, and her brothers, my uncles, have had serious problems as well. Half of the reason I was put into foster care in the first place was because of my birth-mothers inability to live life in a normal way.

Now you wonder why I study psychology and self-help? LOL. It’s important not to overanalyze especially when you are not a doctor, but I also have people in my life that I think may have an untreated disorder. What can you do if someone you love seems to have symptoms of something serious, but doesn’t understand how it’s affecting the world around them?

Unfortunately, mental illness still has such an awful stigma attached to it – that many people who could benefit from a little bit of counseling or even a little bit of medicine, won’t even consider it. If there is someone who doesn’t believe they need help –I’ve learned the hard way that there really isn’t much you can do, except to let them know you’re there for them if they need you, and to emotionally protect yourself.

My belief is that you should gently bring up the subject to the person you’re concerned about. Outline as many reasons why you can of why you think they could benefit from a doctor’s examination. If the option is available to you, offer to go with them. If it’s possible, one way to do this is to do an intervention–bring as many people who love this person together in the same room to talk to them. It’s important to not make them feel ganged up on – just lovingly supported. Maybe one person can talk, while the others just support the person.

If a person is a danger to themselves or others, you need to make them understand that they need help immediately. You would hate to have to be put into a position to ‘admit them’ against their will. Although, if you have to (again, because they are a danger either to themselves or others), don’t beat yourself up about it–your actions are proof of love, and not actions designed to hurt someone else.

You have to be incredibly strong to bring up a subject like this to someone you care enough about to be worried for, especially as most people are not likely to take it well. You are likely to be seen as the ‘bad guy,’ for quite a long time. Remember, as in parenting, it’s better to be seen as the bad guy, than to lose someone you care about.

If someone you care about has a diagnosed mental illness, being compassionate but not overbearing is the right way to handle this. Don’t go telling everyone what is not anyone else’s business, unless their behavior makes it necessary–all people are allowed dignity and respect.

The worst part about my birth mother’s mental illness, was watching people treat her with fear, disdain, or extreme dislike–just because of her illness. My mother was a very loving person, extremely smart and extremely caring. It was not her fault or her choice to have a debilitating mental illness. She is one of the reasons I’m here today writing these blogs–she taught me the real meaning of humanity.

Every single person should be treated with dignity and respect. Compassion will get you further as a human being than judging or criticizing that which you don’t understand.

I wish more people had looked under the surface of my mother’s illness and saw her true beauty, worth and value. But most didn’t, and it’s too late now.

My mother passed away in an adult foster home a little over a year ago. I doubt that the paramedics tried too hard to save her.

If you think someone you know has a mental illness, do your best to urge them towards getting help. No matter what happens, remember to love them, treat them as a human being, and be the strongest shoulder that you can be.

If you were in their shoes, how would you want to be treated?

All best,


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  • Anonymous

    I was taught as a teenager that mentally ill individuals are actually quite rare and special. That they share a foothold in two planes, this world we live in and the spiritual. And because of this their understanding and sometimes speech can be more complex, but what most people call crazy. It's like finding a diamond among pebbles, they are so special. But because of their minds living in two planes it can have a damaging effect on their bodies and sometimes it will cut their life short. No matter how short the time those of us who know someone like this seem to have a heightened sense of compassion and kindness. It's a trait that only they can teach. Be thankful you had someone like this Rose, I am.

  • Scared and lost

    We need advise. Our mother had a brain aneurysm in 1995, she lost her short term memory, reading and math abilities but was able to quickly regain them. Now she is 70 years of age our Dad passed in 2009 and ever since her anger and trust issues have gotten unbearable. Seems anyone can be a target from being accused of stealing from her to having outright rage and hatred directed at you. What can we do?

    • Rose

      Dear Scared and Lost,

      I’m so sorry to hear this. It must be very stressful for you! Have you taken her to a doctor recently? Those sounds like symptoms of dementia. There’s many different kinds of dementia – not just Alzheimers. If you haven’t had that checked out – you definitely should! Also, check her meds – there are some weird symptoms to different medicines sometimes.
      My heart goes out to you and yours. It sounds so very stressful. I believe prayer works – and if you do too – give it a try.

      All best,